A Unique Group of Heart Transplant Recipients
A Unique Group of Heart Transplant Recipients
Click on the image to read about how these vaccine's work
Click here to read about this article asking what you are doing to take care of yourself during the pandemic.
Click on the image to read about Christiaan Barnard. The surgeon who led his team to perform the world's first human heart transplant at the Groote Scur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.
Click here to read about Canada's first province to enact the organ donation presumed consent law.
Click on the image to read more on this newly approved vaccine.
Click on the image to learn more about whether someone who has died from COVID-19 or had long-COVID donate their organs for transplantation.
July 21, 2020 – Your health and safety continues to be a priority for Transplant Manitoba. The
COVID-19 pandemic continues to change and steps are being taken to ensure the ongoing safety of
Starting Monday, July 27, DynaCare has changed the location for immunocompromised bloodwork.
Patients should report to:
DynaCare Patient Service Care Centre, 404 – 400 Tache.
Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4 pm.
Please bring this letter with you.
The lab at CancerCare Manitoba is still available to transplant patients. Please use the 675
McDermot Ave entrance. Hours are Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. Bring this letter with you.
If you have a cough, fever and/or shortness of breath, do not go to DynaCare labs, the CancerCare
Manitoba lab, Transplant Clinic, or HSC. Please call Health Links for further instructions at 204-788-
8200 or 1-888-315-9257.
If you have traveled outside of Manitoba, or come into contact with someone suspected of having
COVID-19, within 14 days from when your bloodwork or transplant clinic visit is booked, please
contact the transplant clinic for instructions.
For up-to-date information and detailed resources on COVID-19, please go to the Government of
Manitoba website – www.gov.mb.ca.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR ORGAN TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS
March 30, 2020 – Transplant Manitoba’s priority is your health and safety. The current situation
surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic requires steps to be taken to ensure the ongoing safety of all
patients. We are planning to minimize your risk of potential exposure when coming for your
For transplant patients living in Winnipeg and surrounding area:
Please get all your bloodwork done at the DynaCare Patient Service Care Centre, 55 Marion
St. Hours are Monday to Friday from 7 am to 6 pm. Bring this letter with you.
This location is for immunocompromised patients and not open to general public. Only
healthy transplant patients or other healthy, but immunocompromised patients, have
If you have a cough, fever and/or shortness of breath, do not go to DynaCare lab. Please call Health
Links for further instructions at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257.
For up-to-date information and detailed resources on COVID19, please go to the Government of
Manitoba website – www.gov.mb.ca.
GE441 – 820 Sherbrook St. | HSC Winnipeg | Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9 | T: 204 787 7001 | www.transplantmanitoba.ca
By: Alan Small
Posted: 03/31/2020 7:16 AM
People often say an organ transplant is a miracle. Liver-transplant recipient Ron Lotz’s story takes that a step further.
"It’s been the most strange thing I could ever imagine," he says over the phone.
Ron and Patricia Lotz have been married for 46 years.
On the evening of March 11, Lotz, who at 68 has lived with liver disease since 1974, got the call everyone on a transplant waiting list dreams of receiving. He was dining with Patricia, his wife of 46 years, and his brother-in-law Larry Pradinuk at a Smitty’s restaurant near his home in North Kildonan. It would be Pradinuk’s birthday in a couple of days.
Earlier that day, Lotz had been part of a video conference call with doctors in Toronto regarding his liver and his place on the transplant waiting list. They said it would likely be the fall before he’d get the call to come for surgery.
At dinner, Lotz’s cellphone rang.
It was the liver transplant program in Toronto, telling him to get home quickly and they would call with details.
"They said, ‘Get yourself ready. We have a liver for you,’" Lotz recalls.
A couple of hours later, Lotz and Pradinuk were heading to the airport — not the main terminal — to catch an overnight charter to Toronto. Patricia, who has a chronic illness that has compromised her immunity, was advised to stay home.
On March 11, Ontario reported five more cases of COVID-19 in the province, upping its total to 41. The same evening Lotz and Pradinuk boarded the plane, TV broadcasters announced the NBA was suspending its season after a Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, had tested positive for COVID-19.
Lotz remembers when he first found out he had liver disease. He and his wife were newlyweds in 1974 when he woke up one morning sweating so profusely the bedsheets were soaked.
A trip to the doctor eventually led to a liver biopsy, which revealed that his liver was damaged. He felt no major symptoms over the years, and with doctor’s care and medication, Lotz continued to live a normal life, working as a department manager at various Safeway stores throughout Winnipeg for 48 years before retiring in 2017. His last day was at the Transcona Safeway on Kildare Avenue as a produce manager. "I’m an apple stacker," he says.
As Lotz aged, though, the liver disease progressed. By August 2019, he had cirrhosis; a series of MRIs also found a tumour on his liver. He underwent radio frequency ablation (RFA) therapy sessions in Winnipeg and Toronto to remove the tumour. It was at that time that his doctor, Dr. David Peretz, suggested he should be put on the waiting list for a liver transplant.
"I had to go through all kinds of tests," Lotz says. "I had an MRI every two months."
He went to Toronto for a final assessment last October and he says his doctor there, Dr. Les Lilly, told him he’d likely have to wait until fall 2020 for transplant surgery, but that his liver was still functioning reasonably well.
The plane landed at 7 a.m. on March 12 in Toronto. "It was a propeller plane so it took us a while, but it got us there," Lotz says, remembering a trip that included a stop in Thunder Bay for fuel.
They went in right away to Toronto General Hospital. Surgery was set for 6 p.m. It was a lengthy procedure — 11 1/2 hours, doctors told Lotz.
"I had a hernia and they fixed that at the same time," he says. "They joked I was getting a two-for-one."
Lotz said he was on a ventilator after the surgery and as he was coming to, he could hear his brother-in-law talking to him.
Pradinuk and Lotz have known each other for so long, they often joke around, calling each other Johnny.
"In my mind I could hear that it was his voice," Lotz says. "They took the ventilator tube out of my throat and I said, ‘Johnny, am I still alive?’
"He said, ‘You must be, because I’m no angel.’"
On March 12, the day of Lotz’s liver-transplant surgery, Ontario announced 18 new cases of COVID-19, including Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. Her husband, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said she was going into self-isolation and wasn’t showing any symptoms.
The NHL joined the NBA in suspending its season that same day.
In the next couple of days, Lotz continued his recovery from surgery, but plans were already in the works to move him out of Toronto.
In the hours and days after transplant surgeries, patients are typically given large doses of anti-rejection medication to prevent the body’s immune system from attacking the new organ. That leaves transplant patients susceptible to everyday germs and viruses.
With COVID-19 cases increasing at an exponential rate in Toronto, hospitals were ramping up preparations to treat coronavirus patients, and they knew Lotz had to go.
"They didn’t want me to be there too long because all hell had broken loose in the world," he said.
The transplant program was unable to arrange for a flight on March 16, four days after his surgery, but an air ambulance came from Edmonton the next day to fly him and Pradinuk back to Winnipeg — this time in a small jet — and he was taken to the Health Sciences Centre to continue his recovery.
One problem: Manitoba Health announced seven more COVID-19 cases in the province on March 17, upping Manitoba’s total to 15. The pandemic had reached Winnipeg too.
"They basically wanted me out of the hospital as soon as they could," Lotz says, adding he’d heard HSC was going to convert the floor he was on into a COVID-19 ward.
Lotz has been home with Patricia ever since.
"She has been so strong through all of this…" he says over the phone, trying to hold back tears. Only his daughter, Shauna Cornwell, her two children, and brother-in-law Larry have been allowed to visit. His sister and other friends and relatives drop by and shout encouragement from the front door.
"He has faced every challenge and every struggle our family has endured (and there have been many) with a glass-half-full perspective and as a pillar of strength," Cornwell writes in an email. "His story is a prime example of when ‘good things happen to good people.’
"We are so grateful to his donor and his family. Despite the uncertainty of the world around us right now, as a family, our hearts could not be fuller."
Lotz has made many hospital visits for blood tests and doctors’ visits since returning home and knows there are many more to come. Thursday was his latest and he says doctors are happy with how he’s doing; half of the staples from his surgery were removed.
Does he worry about contracting the coronavirus during one of these visits? Again, Lotz remains positive.
"No, not really," he said. "Everywhere I’ve been staff are being really careful."
COVID-19 FAQ’s for Organ Transplant Recipients – Bulletin #2
What do we know about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Organ Transplant Recipients?No reported cases of COVID-19 in transplants (adult or children) have been reported to date (as ofMarch 25, 2020). Similar to other viral infections, infection with COVID-19 may be more severe in OTrecipients.The time between being exposed to someone with the virus and developing symptoms appears to bebetween 2 and 14 days.
Symptoms of the InfectionSymptoms are often described as “flu-like” symptoms:Fever (may not be present in people on immunosuppression)CoughRunny NoseDifficulty BreathingVomiting and Diarrhea (appear to be uncommon)
TreatmentAlthough many treatments have been tried and are being studied, there is no medication proven tospecifically treat the virus at this time. Treatment is to support people through the illness and allowtheir body to fight off the infection. Supportive care may include things like oxygen to supportbreathing and fluids through an IV if people are dehydrated.
PreventionAs with all respiratory viruses (viruses affecting breathing), trying to avoid exposure to the virus is thebest way to prevent getting sick. The virus is spread through close contact (within 2 meters) withothers who have the virus, for example by being exposed to someone who is coughing or sneezing. Itis also spread through infected saliva and secretions from the nose, as well as contact with surfacesthat people with the infection have recently touched.General precautions to prevent getting sick with a respiratory virus include:
• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Using alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
• Keeping hands away from the face - avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoiding contact with people that are known to be sick
• Staying home when you are sick and covering your cough or sneeze
March 25, 2020 Page 2
• Cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces
• Ensuring that children and their families are up to date on their immunizations, including the annual influenza vaccine (There is no vaccine available for COVID-19 at this time)
• Avoiding unnecessary visits to crowded places
What about travel plans?It is recommended that transplant patients avoid any kind of travel, either outside Canada or withinCanada. It is also recommended that household members also avoid any non- essential travel.
How about face masks?We do not routinely recommend wearing face masks in public to try to prevent getting COVID-19.There is no known benefit of wearing face masks while in public to try to prevent getting COVID-19 orother respiratory viruses. Masks, especially tighter fitting ones, can be very uncomfortable to wear forlong periods of time and may lead people, especially children, to touch their face more than normal toadjust the mask, which can increase the risk of getting a respiratory infection.
What if I have flu-like symptoms?If you develop symptoms, contact your doctor / healthcare team and / or call Health Links-Info Santé:204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free). Any person concerned about their exposure to or risk ofhaving COVID-19 should call Health Links–Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257before arriving at a testing site.There are many possible causes of flu-like symptoms, with influenza being a very common cause atthis time of year. At this time, infection with COVID-19 is unlikely in Manitoba unless there has beenrecent travel to China or to another country with ongoing spread of COVID-19 (Hong Kong,Singapore, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and possibly the USA) or if there has been close contactwith someone who has/may have the virus.
If you have symptoms and have medical appointments you should call ahead to your
transplant team. Non-urgent appointments may be deferred. If you need to attend the appointmentsyou will be asked to wear a mask and may be placed in isolation upon your arrival to yourappointment.
Where can I get more information?Manitoba Health coronavirus information for Manitobans can be found at:
https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/You can also visit: https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/index.html
*Adapted from Edmonton Alberta Transplant Clinic, March 12, 2020 Document
Read here about how a Brandon family starts "Green Heart Project" with the aim of raising awareness and providing support for families.
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Read here about this proud goalie mom who was also the donor for a kidney transplant her son had in 2004.
Read here about how the gift anyone can give has increased organ donation and transplant rates in Ontario.
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Jennifer Laferriere is a Community correspondent for The Times who attended our June picnic. Jennifer wrote an article about our group you can read here
What about being optimistic, having gratitude and life purpose is heart-protective? Read more here
On a softball field in Trenton, N.S., Donna Nugent heard her son's heartbeat for the first time in more than a year. Read more here
Albertans may soon become organ and tissue donors without prior consent. Click here to read more
Click here to read this article and these transplant statistics
Click here to watch the video of Manitoba celebrating anniversary of first kidney transplant 50 years ago in 1969
Click here to read this opinion article about Transplant and post transplant mortality statistics and quality of life
Click here to read this article about medically assisted dying and organ donation - posted May 23/19
Click here to read about plans for a new transplant ward at HSC
Click here to read about how the Boulet family find comfort in knowing their loss has led to a movement of selflessness and generosity
Click here to read who will be hosting the 2020 Transplant games
Heartlinks wrapped up its annual NOTDAW event at St. Boniface Hospital. Many thanks to Shari Barker, Transplant Nurse in the Heart Clinic; our volunteers who baked and sold cookies and donated prizes for our basket draw. Several people registered on signupforlife.ca and we had many conversations about organ donation. Transplant Manitoba saw more than 2,400 Manitobans register on signupforlife.ca during NOTDAW and more than 5,000 registered during April. Currently theb online registry is close to 40,000!
Click here to read about this young woman's story of heart failure
Click here to read about Manitoba as it relates to presumed consent for organ donation
Click here and then click the facebook link to read the latest on Manitoba's online organ donor registry
Click here to read about the family of Humboldt Bronco Logan Boulet announcing April 7th as Green Shirt Day to honor his legacy
Click here to read about double heart transplant recipient Dean Omeniuk
Click here to read about the latest research in heart valve surgery
Click here to learn what happens to the DNA of both donor and recipient after a heart transplant
Click here to read the Saskatchewan Government pledge $558,000 for the creation of a provincial donor registry
Click here to read about Canada's first province scheduled to pass presumed consent legislation